A nap in time, saves nine?

IMG_4618 (1280x418)So here’s the thing, norwegians go skiing or sailing or hiking or visiting at Easter. And then they go to church, to conserts, to exhibits. In between they do crosswords or sudoko or read ( crime novels, mostly) watch tv or eat. Except me.

Since coming home from California I have been so happy doing all kinds of things to get my business started, and did not want to slow down. First a cold, then bronchitis, then pneumonia, so instead of slowing down I had to spend the last week at full stop. IMG_4600 (1280x853)

No reading, no writing, just moping at the coach waiting for some air to get down into my lungs.

Is that not often the case? I do tell my friends to take care, I do tell others that rest is essential.

I once gave a client the task of trying to do to herself what she would do for her best friend. She knew what herself in the role as her best friend needed, she felt guilty for giving it.

IMG_4610 (1280x853)What did she need? Someone to tell her to put her feet up, while fetching her a cup of soup. Why is it, that what we give without thinking to others is so hard to give ourselves?

IMG_4625 (1280x853)Today is Easter day. My big excursion was going out in the garden, considering if I should sit on the bench, taking the  pictures for this blog, and then going inside for another nap.

IMG_4622 (1280x853)And you know? Since I was in my garden last the whole world had awakened, teeming with energy and beauty, without me writing a single list, or making even a tiny plan for it to happen. To me, an allegory of the Easter Miracle, as well a reminder, nap in time!

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Seeing is not believeing

IMG_4507As I did go, even if I was not feeling well, I might as well make the most of it. Due to the connections I arrived hours before the others, and could go looking for things, in a most happy place to do that. A misty, unknown wood, sprinkled with steady spring rain and full of surprises.

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First I saw golden glimmers among the trees, old rotten leaves, but still a burning orange, so lovely.

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Then I saw golden glimmers among the trees, except these were reflection of trees in the water, and the glimmer was fiery red carps, golden moment.

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The next orange flutter was a bird hopping close to my feet, obviously trying to remind me that others had brought food…

I did not pay attention, as that was when I saw a bundle of unbelievable, flaming orange leaping over the carpet of pine needles and laying down to rest among the trees. Neither leaves, nor fish, nor birds, but a couple of Siberian tigers jumping for joy in the rainy spring morning.

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Sometimes, even seeing is almost not believing, and as I did not capture them until they took a rest, you might believe what you want to. Isn’t that always so, no matter what we are told, even no matter what we see, we believe only what we are prepared to see.

We see only what we think it is possible to see? Sometimes, we do. And then at other times, there are tigers in norwegian woods.

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When life hands you lemons- take a nap!

IMG_4456 (1280x815)I thought I were getting wiser, and in theory I am.

So here’s the history and the lesson it tries to offer: I have always had way more ideas than anyone can fulfill in a lifetime. Sometimes I try share my ideas with others, and sometimes I just try harder. I also have way more energy in my soul than in my body, having had my share of ill health through the years, but never giving in, always planning for something. I used to say, I’ll be ill on friday, or next week, or whenever I had a gap in my schedule. I tell myself it is because I want to fulfill my obligations, while in truth I guess I want people to admire what I am able to do.

Through the years I have had countless reminders that life does not work that way. If my body gets loud enough for me to hear it, I should have listened a long time ago.

So, I thought I had learned that. When life is too much, it just is! There is only so much decluttering and reorganisation I can do, if I forget to sleep and rest, no amount of neat drawers can keep me healthy. Or any of us, for that matter. Perhaps all decluttering should start with getting to bed at a set time and rising at a set time, and then see if life doesn’t change?

Just now, with a bad cough, and plane tickets for tomorrow, I am still working on that lesson. Perhaps I should have known as much on friday already? I wanted a nap, I needed a nap, and then I found 10 lemons in the fridge. If I were not going to be at home, they would be wasted. So I made my favorite, lemon curd.

I am wondering though if I really think I am worth less than two pounds of lemons? I’ll have a nap and rethink that.

 

Silver, books or food?

IMG_4193These last weeks I have been reading two books, in norwegian, written by daughters, clearing out their mother’s home. Some years ago my siblings and I did that too, a chore that is something quite else, more like an initiation rite.
Going through item after item, trash and treasures, and deciding;
This you must leave, to grow to what you are to become,
this you may keep, to stay true to who you are,
this you may finally get rid of,
this is not yours to have,
all the time knowing it is only things.
The lesson that could be taken is: “These things are not what your mother left you, but what is, and what is worth keeping?”

One of the authors used the lost Franklin expedition to reflect on what we cherish. The  real story about  John Franklin and his men getting lost while searching for the Northwest passage in 1845 is still a mystery. Actually a new theory was launched as late as this january. What is known though is that these starving, lost men, pulled their sleds, hoping for salvation, but still throwing away essentials to make their burden lighter. The Inuits and the rescue parties have found tins of food, medical supplies and crucial tools left along the last route. They must have been giving in to despair, realizing all hope was lost. And then, perhaps not, the last things to be ditched were monogrammed silver cutlery and a novel. Why?

IMG_4444I found my copy of the book, The Vicar of Wakefield, and read it through, to understand why and when it would be better than food. I am not sure, what do you think?

To me the real eye opener is not how these lost men prioritized though. The more serious question is of course my own choices, not only when it comes to material belongings,or food versus books, what about relations, obligations, work, beliefs?

When I let something go, what guides my choosing? When I decide to keep on to something, will it really keep me up to the end?

Thirst by Mary Oliver

Pat always shares poems or quotes that gives me a new insight, while also resonating with something in my soul. Is that not always so, we can only understand the answer if the question already lives in our heart.

OPreach

The pond God has given us The pond God has given us


Another morning and I wake with thirst

for the goodness I do not have.
I walk
out to the pond and all the way God has


given us such beautiful lessons.
Oh Lord,
I was never a quick scholar but sulked


and hunched over my books past the hour

and the bell; grant me, in your mercy,
a little more time.

Love for the earth
and love for you are having such a long


conversation in my heart.
Who knows what
will finally happen or where I will be sent,


yet already I have given a great many things

away, expecting to be told to pack nothing,

except the prayers which, with this thirst,

I am slowy learning.



— Mary Oliver, Thirst,
  Beacon Press, Boston, 2006, pp. 1, 52, 69

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What you do not find, is still there

Hidden threats

Hidden threats

After dinner I went back to the business lounge to finish my report for the day. I was very comfortable, in a red velvety wing chair, with a cup of steaming coffee and my iPad. But I was not hidden.

In comes a group of business people. They occupy the next table, get coffee and open their laptops. At first I do not listen to their strategies, they are planning how to present their added value to their client next day, which is what business is always about. Even when one of them says  to the young and aspiring one ” remember added value is not supposed to cost us anything”, I am not surprised. He does continue though,” it is all about giving them something that is understood by their customers as added value, when in truth it they are not given what they pay for.” This makes me listen.

I am still not hidden, I am not eavesdropping, as this experienced executive is sitting a yard away from me, talking loud and clear.

Rotten is rotten, even if the view is nice

Rotten is rotten, even if the view is nice

Then they compare their notes and slides and statistics, concluding that their best chance of closing the deal is to present their business client with an IT system that hides as many consumer rights as possible. The consumer that orders something through this site will then give up before discovering their legal rights. The consumer is not cheated, as the truth is still there. As an added bonus, this program could also make the order appear as it was processed at an earlier date than it was, thus giving the customer less time to file his claim. They even discussed the possibility of selling things the customer could not possibly use, as connecting flights before your first flight has landed, and then keep some of the fare. They did not go there though, not to protect the customer, but  it was not really legal, or was it?

I was still not hiding, there was no way they could not see me, smell my coffee or hear me drinking it. Even so, they did not think their plans was worth hiding.

I did not discover what firm this was, except that they were americans. I do not know who they were meeting the next day. I slowly discovered a chilling truth though, I think they did not bother to hide, because they thought every business person would think like them. They were not divulging secrets, but showing off their business acumen.They knew their client, and knew the possibility of holding truth and rights away from their customers was indeed added value.

I was not impressed, and even if I was not hiding I do not think they realized that I left. By then they were too busy toasting to the success of tomorrow.

What I do know though is that truth is still truth, even if it is hidden. I also know that no amount of that kind of added value will be worth the lack of trust in businesses that implements systems to cheat their customers.

In earlier days bakers added a roll to your order of a dozen, just to not risk the death penalty of selling less than paid for.

Rolls are easy to count,  but how do we count what we do not see, and do not know that we should be looking for? There is no use to blame the systems, they are all made by people like you and me. There is no use to blame the law, at least in Norway customers are protected, if they only know what to look  and ask for.

The client could refuse of course, which I hope they did. The customers could be more wary, investigating their rights and insisiting on truths, as I do. Not only for my own sake, but to stir up routines on behalf of those who do not know they may. We all could be more wary, not trusting each other. We could demand more government control, compliance systems and ethical regulations.

Or we could encourage each other to voice our concern, to make heard the stories of companies doing success by being fair, we could dare to challenge each other and hold each other accountable. Not only to a legal framework, but to the ethical choices we need to take to make the world better for everyone. It is still all about doing as you would be done to, isn’t it?

The crooked path to truth

IMG_3781We arrive at the mall, and head for the entrance.

For some reason I am always there first, my friend last, and every time she is just as surprised as last time. And no, it is not because I want to go there most. The secret is that I am easily distracted by small things, though never from my goal. She is never distracted by anything, she just waits for it to pass. So I dart here and there, avoid cars and people and weave my way towards my goal. While she stops and waits when somebody gets in her way, never wavering a yard from her true path.

It does not really matter of course, who comes first to a mall. I do try to apply my whimsical walks to other paths of life though.

What if I, discussing truth, life, death, the big questions, am so sure of the right path and just forces my way to my chosen solution?

What if I, not heeding any hinders, just insists on what the best course is?

Or, what happens in real life, when we stop the considering other people as hindering us from our set path, and see each other as our only way of discovering our true path?

 

Just today

IMG_3776My great-grandfather built a house. When his wife died my grandparents moved in with their three girls and took care of him. Which was what they did. No matter what setting, no matter what challenge, they always was awake to the calling to serve, to be present for a fellow human being. They did not talk about mindfulness. They did not dream up grand plans to happen one day, later. They just lived.

When you entered their home, the first thing you would see in the hallway was this embroidered saying. When you left their home, the last thing you would see when adjusting your hair or hat in the mirror was this saying on the wall over the mirror.

Yesterday is done,
tomorrow is still to come,
but today, today the Lord is your helper.

This was the memento I wanted most from their home, and as you see I keep it in my study. So that I wont disappear in all the musing and dreaming I am apt to do, but come back to earth, to here and now.

Perhaps, sometime when worrying how to understand or bear or handle what is to come, or when mulling over whatever was, we should just try to be where life is, just here, just now?

Frozen? A place for everyone?

IMG_3679To say that Norway is colder than Southern California is a no-brainer.
To me, that grew up in a valley where school in winter meant no recess if the temperature dropped beyond -40 F, it should at least be no surprise.

Even so I, I had “forgotten” how much energy, ingenuity, thinking and hard work goes into just going from A to B, when the world is icy, cold, dark and frozen.  You do not just zip out for an errand, you plan. You do not just go for a drive, you prepare.

This is a shared handicap for all and easy to spot as we wobble and glide on the icy streets. We manage, somehow. And we expect each other to manage. Which is how it has to be, I guess. There are tools, there are clothes.

But what about the icy conditions that do not show? What about the demands we make of each other without understanding the extra effort it sometimes takes to accomplish the smallest task?

No one has to go hungry in Norway, but a lot of people go without being allowed to take part in what builds society. You will hardly find anybody with a severe disability doing ordinary tasks. It will always be part of some program or other, together with others with challenges. No one will pack your groceries. No one will sweep the parking lot.  Does a society that delivers in extreme conditions become hard and unforgiving? Does a community of achievers make it harder for those with less credits to achieve anything?

I do not know. We do take care of each other in Norway. At times though, we are better at making an official survival program than acknowledging the quirky individual survival kits each of us has patched together.

Walk in the light

IMG_3295 walk in light 8 januarOn New Year’s Eve I was sitting on the bluff in Goleta, looking out at the Pacific, taking a deep breath and knowing that this, the ocean, is what I will miss most. Just to be there, be silent, to realign, re-prioritize. Just then I saw another new year’s wanderer step into the light of the setting sun, and I was reminded of my everlasting life resolution and the most untangling tool of them all.On our wedding day my grandmother said; my only advice for a happy and peaceful marriage is to walk in the light, that is she said :

to never let the sun set on your anger
to be willing to ask for forgiveness
to live openly and truthfully

To allow the light of God and your fellow beings enlighten you

Happy light wanderings!